Books: After Us the Deluge

THE SELECTED LETTERS OF HENRY ADAMS (279 pp.)—Edited by Newton Arvin —Farrar, Straus & Young ($3.50).

As every American boy knows, he may grow up to be President. But very few boys plan on it; only one, perhaps, ever took it for granted. Young Henry Adams thought that being President was the family trade. It was an easy mistake for him to make. His great-grandfather, John Adams, had been the second President of the U.S., his grandfather, John Quincy Adams, the sixth. His father, Charles Francis Adams, was a distinguished Ambassador to Great Britain (1861-68), but barely came within flirting distance of...

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